TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — More than two dozen Tuscaloosa firefighters are not at work this week and are at home due to COVID-19 issues.
Fire Chief Randy Smith says some of the 25 firefighters tested positive and some have been exposed and are now on paid administrative leave.
“The 25 who are out varied, some have tested positive, others are off because they worked with someone who tested positive. So as a precaution and to protect the community and to protect our workforce we place them on administrative leave,” Smith said.
Smith said the firefighters and first responders who were exposed to the virus work at different fire stations around Tuscaloosa. There are eleven fire stations and the fire chief says he is not sure how each firefighter got exposed.
“Our personnel are running calls every day on COVID positive patients. So we are treating everyone as if they have COVID. Our firefighters are wearing gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection on known patients.”
Smith tells CBS 42 this is not the first time workers on his staff have tested positive for the coronavirus. April 1, 2020, was the first confirmed case involving a firefighter.
The chief says if any firefighters show signs of being sick, they will be sent to get tested for COVID 19.
Nine Santa Barbara County firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the department confirms to KSBY News.
Another 12 are reportedly under quarantine.
The fire department says firefighters, like other essential workers, are among those regularly exposed to the virus.
“We are continuing to implement and practice enhanced procedures that will help limit the spread of COVID within our stations and workforce,” officials told KSBY news.
There are currently 36 positive cases among staff at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
KSBY reached out to CAL FIRE SLO to see if any staff there have tested positive but has not yet received a response.